Citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in late December before the holidays, New Hanover County’s health board said it would again discuss indoor face coverings rules.
The Health and Human Services Board is slated to revisit the question of an indoor mask mandate for the county on Jan. 18.
A public hearing about the topic is scheduled for that meeting at 8 a.m.
In August, the board voted for a requirement for coverings in indoor public spaces for anyone over the age of 2 regardless of vaccination status, though the board’s rule included some exceptions. At that time the delta variant’s spread was causing an uptick in new cases.
In mid-November when cases dropped, the board voted to lift the mandate. The county’s positivity rate then stood at 2.7% – below public health officials’ desired threshold of 5%.
But a month later, cases began creeping back up as the omicron variant began to circulate in the U.S., holiday gatherings started and colder temperatures kept people indoors.
On Dec. 21, the Health and Human Services board voted to discuss and revisit the face coverings health rule for the January meeting.
“This is a proactive conversation that the board plans to have, given our current increases in case counts and hospitalizations and the rapid spread of Omicron, to see where we are and if additional protective measures like face coverings are needed,” board chair LeShonda Wallace said in a news release.
The board also voted to form a subcommittee to work with county staff, including New Hanover County’s newly formed Pandemic Operations Team, to develop a clear methodology of statistical analysis, including hospital, CDC and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data, to make a data-informed decision related to the face coverings health rule and other pandemic- related protective measures.
The meeting takes place in the Health and Human Services building’s multipurpose room, 1650 Greenfield St. It also will stream live at NHCTV.com, youtube.com/NewHanoverCo
and Spectrum Cable Channel 13. People can also listen to the meeting by dialing (415) 655- 0003 with meeting ID 808 594 284 #.
Comments can be submitted in advance of the meeting online at surveymonkey.com/r/BCKNTLW
through noon Jan. 14.